OUTDOORS NOTEBOOK: Wolf delisting creates dilemma in N.D., Groups commend general CRP signup etc.

Wolf delisting creates dilemma in N.D. BISMARCK -- The recent action by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the Great Lakes population of gray wolves from federal protection creates two sets of regulations in North Dakota. According to S...

Ontario snowmobile ride includes stop at White Otter Castle
This Winter That Wasn't has been a disaster for snowmobile enthusiasts, but Ross Spoonland of Park River, N.D. (pictured), logged 677 miles Jan. 29-30 when he joined Paul Robinson of Winnipeg for a trek across northwestern Ontario. "We left Kenora on Sunday morning (Jan. 29), traveling trails through Vermilion Bay, Dryden, Sioux Lookout, Ignace and into Atikokan," Spoonland writes. "We stayed overnight in Atikokan, returning to Kenora late Monday. Snow and trail conditions were excellent, and the scenery...

Wolf delisting creates dilemma in N.D.

BISMARCK -- The recent action by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the Great Lakes population of gray wolves from federal protection creates two sets of regulations in North Dakota.

According to Stephanie Tucker, furbearer biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, the delisting only includes the portion of North Dakota east of U.S. Highway 83 and the Missouri River. That means the state manages wolves in eastern North Dakota, while wolves west of Highway 83 remain under federal protection because they fall in a gray area between the Great Lakes and Rocky Mountain wolf populations.

Tucker said there are no plans to offer a wolf season because sightings are rare, and the state doesn't support a wolf population.

"The upside is that under state management, we now have the flexibility to deal with any issues that may arise with the occasional transient animals moving through North Dakota," Tucker said.


North Dakota law allows landowners to protect their property from depredation by a state-managed furbearer. That means landowners in eastern North Dakota could shoot a wolf posing a threat to livestock. West of Highway 83 and the Missouri River, wolves remain an endangered species under stricter federal protection. Subsequently, landowners in that part of the state first must contact proper federal authorities before taking action on their own.

"Our hope is that in the near future, additional delisting action by the Fish and Wildlife Service will address western North Dakota," Tucker said. "Then the confusion over split management status in our state will be eliminated."

-- Herald staff report

Groups commend general CRP signup

WASHINGTON -- Prominent voices in the outdoors community are commending a decision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to open a general signup for the federal Conservation Reserve Program.

CRP since 1986 has been a cornerstone of the Farm Bill critical to sustaining fish and wildlife habitat on private lands.

USDA officials announced the signup Wednesday morning.

"In spite of record prices for many crops, landowner interest in participating in the Conservation Reserve Program remains high," said Dave Howell, a regional director with Quail Unlimited. "The USDA's continued commitment to maintaining CRP enrollment, particularly in light of the budgetary challenges our nation currently is facing, is commendable and bodes well for the future of this popular conservation program."


Through CRP, private landowners have restored more than 2 million acres of wetlands, 2 million acres of riparian buffers and conserved 170,000 miles of streams. Those efforts have resulted in the annual production of 13.5 million pheasants nationwide and 2.2 million ducks in the Prairie Pothole Region.

-- Herald staff report

Midwinter waterfowl survey sets record

BISMARCK -- The North Dakota Game and Fish Department's annual midwinter waterfowl survey in early January tallied 279,000 birds, a record high for the number of ducks and geese wintering in the state.

Mike Szymanski, migratory game bird biologist for Game and Fish in Bismarck, said an estimated 90,000 Canada geese were observed on the Missouri River, and another 70,500 were scattered on Lake Sakakawea, which was completely open east of the Van Hook Arm. After summarizing the numbers, a record 190,000 geese were tallied statewide.

Mallards also reached an all-time high, with 88,000 counted statewide, including 31,000 on Devils Lake.

-- N.D. Game and Fish Department

Did you know?


- The North Dakota Game and Fish Department will offer 682 any-deer bow licenses to nonresidents this year. However, pending the final proclamation, antlerless mule deer may not be legal to harvest within a large area of western North Dakota. The number of nonresident any-deer bow licenses available is 15 percent of the previous year's mule deer gun license allocation. The deadline for applying is April 1, and Game and Fish will hold a lottery if applications exceed available licenses. Applications:

- A bill in the U.S. Senate aims to protect fishing, hunting and shooting on more than 400 million acres of public land managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Introduced by Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., the bill is a companion to legislation passed 29-14 by the House Natural Resources Committee and awaiting a vote before the full House.

- Nearly two dozen conservation groups in Minnesota recently sent a letter to Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders in support of proposed Outdoor Heritage Fund allocations recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. The recommendations, which total $97 million in fiscal year 2013, will be forwarded to the Legislature for consideration and would fund habitat projects across the state. Money for the Outdoor Heritage Fund comes from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, which Minnesota voters approved in 2008. The 12-member LSOHC reviewed proposals from across Minnesota in drafting its recommendations.

- The Agassiz Audubon Society in Warren, Minn., is sponsoring Saturday birdwatching excursions in March and April. There'll be a waterfowl and swan-watching trip to Fergus Falls, Minn., on March 3 and an April 21 excursion to watch prairie chickens and sandhill cranes at Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge near Crookston. Info: Shelley Steva, (218) 416-0444 or ; or Heidi Hughes, (218) 745-5663 or .

- A conference on the "Future of Hunting in North Dakota" is scheduled for March 30-31 at the Doublewood Inn in Bismarck. The conference includes panel discussions featuring experts from several groups and is sponsored by the North Dakota Wildlife Federation and the North Dakota Chapter of The Wildlife Society.

What To Read Next
Get Local